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Private virtual worlds continue to grow

You might recall that I have written before about Unisfair, which supplies private virtual worlds to companies that want to create a more immersing event than WebEx, but with more privacy and measurement than Second Life. I’ve told the story of Unisfair’s ROI, but I caught up recently with Sarah Tonzi, a publicist working for Unisfair, who updated me on the company’s progress. I thought you’d be interested in hearing what’s happening, too.


Sarah was eager to tell me about Unisfair’s recent 2.0 release that added professional networking and multi-language capabilities, but I wanted to hear about what customers where doing with these features. After writing my previous stories about Unisfair, I heard from other vendors with similar technologies, but each time I asked them about what customers are doing with their technology, I never heard back from them.
Sarah was happy to provide me a couple of customer stories that help us understand what this technology can do. Cisco is one of Unisfair’s customers, and they are the ones who instigated the addition of the professional networking features. Like with a public social network, attendees of a Unisfair event can upload publish their profiles, allowing Unisfair to match people of similar interests together. Cisco has been using this feature in its Partner Exchange virtual world, so that business partners can locate each other based on expertise. So, in the past, your draw to an event consisted solely of information, but now, over time, you might be able to create a real community where other members are part of the draw of your event, just as with an in-person conference, where networking with fellow professionals is as important as the sessions themselves.
Sarah also described to me how Unisfair has added support for 15 national languages where they started with just English. A Swedish company that organizes virtual events, expoIT24, created the Nordic Virtual Business Fair, a year-round virtual world that has attracted Microsoft, SAP, and other IT vendors to participate. More than 1500 IT decision makers have taken advantage of the free online fair to begin their purchase process.
I believe that this virtual alternative to trade shows is becoming more and more important. Do you have any success stories to tell? I’d love to hear from more folks using virtual worlds to reach customers more effectively and more cheaply than through traditional road shows.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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